This morning Fenner wanted to leave early for school. She came in my room as I was getting dressed. “Mom, I want to leave soon. … When are you going to be ready? … You haven’t done that yet? … What earrings are you going to wear? … Mom, what are you doing? … I really want to leave soon! … ” As she was talking she followed me around and hovered over my every move. I hated it! It made my skin crawl! And right away it dawned on me that I was experiencing what kids all across the globe endure every day.

“Fenner,” I said, “what’s weird is that what you’re doing right now to me is exactly what I used to do to you, and it’s so strange because the more you try to rush me, the more I get the urge to slow down!” Then she grabbed my arm and started to pull. I pulled my arm away. “That’s not helpful,” I said.

Just then Charlotte came in. “Charlotte, are you taking the bus?” asked Fenner. “No.” “Why not? Why aren’t you taking the bus anymore?” “I think I’m too sick to take the bus, because I still have a stuffy nose,” said Charlotte. “Well, it’s 7 o’clock so are you ready to go?” “Do I look ready?” “No. So why don’t you get ready?” “Well, why don’t you get ready? You’re not dressed.” “I will if you will … So are you going to get ready?” “I will if you stop talking to me!”

I smiled and shook my head. So that’s what it’s like for them. What a fascinating role reversal. I had no idea how awful it really feels to have someone nagging and watching and checking and hovering and prompting. It’s much worse than I thought. Good to know.

ps Charlotte had a total meltdown today. Not sure what set it off, but there was stomping and crying and “I wish I was never born!” … “I want new parents!” … “Everybody hates me!” … “Everybody says no to everything, nobody ever says yes!” … “Nobody listens to me!” … “Nobody’s nice to me ever!”… “My whole life is miserable!” And on and on. When I tried to say something encouraging, she responded with, “You always say that, you always say boring things, you never do anything!” So instead I began to only say, “Hmm … oh … I see … ah …” and then occasionally I repeated back to her something she said. Then slowly, she began to relax. I said to myself, ok, here’s another bump. Keep those crucial c’s in mind — that’s really what she’s asking for. That and a snack should do the trick.

Sure enough, she was hungry. After she ate, I invited her to play UNO (her favorite card game). The whole family joined in and we laughed and joked and Charlotte was transformed. Life was good again. Phew.

Explore posts in the same categories: Week 9: Family Meetings

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